The Myth Of “Fat Burning Foods”

The Myth Of “Fat Burning Foods”

What’s up, guys? Sean Nalewanyj here at in this video here I wanted to spill a very
common myth that you’ll see floating around in the fitness industry, which is the idea
of foods that burns fat. So you’ve probably seen articles and videos like this floating
around, you know “The 8 Best Fat Burning Foods” or “5 Foods That Burn Fat Fast”,
and depending on how you interpret the idea of a fat burning food, it’s either a completely
false concept or there’s some truth to it but only a little bit. So let’s take a look
at both scenarios. So, the first is the literal idea of fat burning food; and these are the
one that you’ll see on ads and in general weight loss articles where they basically
implied that is you add a particular food into your diet that you’ll actually burn
more fat as a result. And this could be because the food supposedly boost your fat burning
hormone levels or increases your metabolism or whatever else, and this is totally false.
And for people who are totally new to fitness and proper nutrition, it’s actually a really
dangerous concept that does a lot more harm than good. It is true that when you eat a
particular food your body has to expand a certain number of calories to extract the
total calories from that food. This is called the thermic effect of food or TEF. However,
the overall result is going to be a positive net increased in your calorie intake. There’s
no such thing as a negative calorie food or a free food that you can just eat in unlimited
quantities. Anything that you consume that contains calories will add to your calorie
intake. So in that sense the idea of a fat burning food is basically an oxymoron and
adding a particular food to your diet on top of what you’re already eating is never going
to result in more fat loss for the day as a whole. And this is why articles that talked
about this are dangerous because they’ll tell people that, you know, avocado is a fat
burning food or coconut oil or chocolate are fat burning foods and then people think, “Okay,
great, I can add some avocado or some dark chocolate to my diet and I’m going to get
better overall results.” When in reality a lot of these so called fat loss foods are
actually extremely calorie densed, and the number of calories that you end up storing
hugely outweighs what your body burns to digest them. Yes, obviously some foods have lower
calorie density in comparison to the total volume that they provide, vegetables are a
good examples of that. And so including those foods in your diet is a helpful way to keep
yourself feeling full without adding a lot of calories, but they still do add calories
to your diet. And usually you won’t be eating them plain anyway, and so whatever else you
add to those foods also contributes to your calorie intake. Now, unless you’re a complete
beginner then I’m sure most of you were aware of that already, but I did mention that
there was some truth to this concept and that’s because different macro nutrients have higher
or lower thermic effects. So certain foods do require more calorie output to digest them
in comparison to other foods. Now, there’s no universally agreed on figures here, so
these are just ballpark estimates but dietary fat has the lowest TEF at about 3-5% , carbohydrates
are around 5-15% and protein is the highest at about 20-30%, and fiber is also about the
same as protein. So in other words of you ate a hundred calories worth of fat, your
body would expand, maybe 5 calories in order to extract those hundred calories and so the
net results would be 95 calories. Whereas if you ate a hundred calories worth of protein,
your body might expand, say 25 calories, and so the net result might be 75 calories. So
in that sense the idea of fat burning foods, sort of make sense but only in terms of comparing
one food item that has a lower thermic effect and with the same number of total calories
as another food item that has a higher thermic effect. So, for example, a can of tuna could
be looked at as more of a fat burning food than one and a half table spoons of olive
oil because even though they both have the same calorie content your body has to expand
more energy to extract the calories from the tuna. Now some people will hear this sort
of thing and then think, “Okay, I’m just going to eat nothing but high protein and
high fiber foods, and that way I’ll maximize TEF and I’ll lose more fat.” It’s obviously
not that simple though, and there’s a couple important things to keep in mind. First off,
even though dietary fat has a very low thermic effect you still need a certain amount of
dietary fat for health reasons, like proper brain function and keeping hormone levels
in check. So, really low fat diets are basically never a good idea to begin with, not to mention
that they will cause your appetites to go way up. Secondly, most people generally won’t
be best off on a low carb diet. For some people it works, but for the majority a low carb
diet will caused low energy and lower mental focus among other things, which can negatively
affect your training performance and your motivation levels. And then thirdly, TEF only
makes up a small percentage of your total calorie burn for the day anyway, usually about
10%, and so it doesn’t really make any sense to try and structure your diet around maximizing
the thermic effect as opposed to just making sure that you’re maintaining a calorie deficit
and consuming a good balanced mix of macro nutrients. I already recommend that you consume
around 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight daily. I recommend that you
do include high fiber foods like vegetables in order to fill yourself up and meet your
micro nutrient needs. And so you’re going to get decent thermic effect from that already,
and you’re going to do that while keeping your appetite controlled. So I really wouldn’t
worry much about TEF beyond that. Like I’ve said a million times before, fat loss is about
maintaining a calorie deficit overtime through a balanced macro nutrient intake. And it’s
not about only eating certain food items and avoiding other ones. There’s no such thing
as fat burning foods or fat storing foods, there’s only such a thing as a fat burning
diet or a fat storing diet. And that’s going to be primarily dictated by overall energy
balance. So thanks for watching guys. If you appreciate science based, no BS information
when it comes to training and nutrition then you can grab my Body Transformation Blueprint
by clicking here, or by heading over to using the link in the description box. That
program shows you everything you need to know to lose fat and to gain muscle effectively
in a simple step-by-step format. You can follow me on social media here if you aren’t already.
The official website is and don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe
if you did find the information helpful. Thanks for watching guys and I’ll see you in the
next video.

36 Replies to “The Myth Of “Fat Burning Foods”

  1. I am afraid a lot of people will get stuck on "oxymoron" 😈 The information in the video, as always, is on point.

  2. green tea is said to contain e.g.c.g which speeds up metabolism & hence assists in losing fat. is this true? please advise.

  3. You, Muscle & Magicka, and Red Delta Project always spread truth and light to all. Thanks for your service.

  4. today i ate more than i should've (2500 and should've eaten 2100). if i go running and burn some calories, would that push me to 2100 calorie net for the day ?

  5. sean great content as always, I was wondering if you could make a video on how micro nutrient dense foods do affect your hormones and and how you store fat and what not?

  6. Hey Sean, I've noticed over the past few years that the recommended amount of protein for bodybuilders has significantly decreased, at least in the YouTube fitness game. People used to recommend 2.0x grams of protein/pound of body weight, then it turned to 2.0 protein/pound of lean mass, and now it's down to 0.8-1.0 protein/pound. Do you know why this change seemed to happen so suddenly? And do you think that it will continue to drop?

    Loved the video, btw.

  7. While Six Pack Shortcuts is releasing videos like "3 Fat Burning foods to Eat at Your Desk", "How To Burn Fat With Coffee" and top of all that "Reasons Why Men Over 40 Need To Detox". Who are they trying to kidding.

  8. i'm sorry sean but you're wrong on this, because your logic doesn't apply. it's not because of the thermic effect of food that certain foods stimulate fat loss. it goes deeper. i'm just digging up some info that i stumbled upon today: take fiber for example. fiber is converted into short chain fatty acids (SCFA) by your gut bacteria. new research has shown that fat cells have a specific receptor for SCFA which downmodulates the effect insulin has on the cells, so it doesn't trigger fat storage. as shown by gery taubes, the causality of the caloric balance points in the other direction. people usually think, the more calories they consume the more gets stored as fat. but if you look at the storage mechanism which is very insulin dependent, you see that if insulin is low fat can't be stored (as well), thus making the body excrete a lot of calories unused. i think while you should always keep your calories in mind that nutritional science is a very complex field of research.

  9. Great video Sean, it all makes sense. Was wondering about chillies and what you're views are about their fat burning properties.

  10. Is there an easy way to determine how much fat you should consume for health reasons, I weigh 84kg and eat about 65g of fat. Thanks Sean keep up the informative videos.

  11. what kind of diet do I go on to gain muscle im only 15 im playing 🏈🏈 next year for Reagan and the coach said "i will be getting slung around like an rag doll " ima prove him and everyone who out me down wrong.

  12. Hey Sean, I know this question isn't directly related to the video but what do you think about Multivitamins?
    Let's say for example I ate 1 banana, 1 orange, and ~250g Brussel sprouts – would this be considered 'enough' fruit and vegetables to justify not taking a Multivitamin supplement daily?

    I do take Zinc, Magnesium, Vitamin D, Omega3 and Creatin as single supplements already though. Thanks & keep up the good work 🙂

  13. Yeah–this reminds me of when I tell people I started eating more (fill in the blank with a "fat burning food" like coconut oil) and they ask me if it is helping me losing weight. If you want to lose weight you have to eat nutrient dense foods that for you are satisfying (satiety). For me, personally, this eliminates foods that some "experts" consider important. Like avocados. They don't satisfy me. I do better with bacon or peanut butter if I need fat. The difference is, I eat 300 calories in avocado I'm still hungry. I eat same amount of PB or bacon I don't want to see another gram of fat for at least 5-6 hours. It's all relative I guess.

  14. Great video Sean! I really don't understand how you don't have a million more subscribers. Your information – and the way you present it – is easy for all to understand. Always appreciated! (From New Zealand)

  15. i know that this doesnt make much of a difference and its not the secret for weight loss but how would unsweetend green tea fall to this example?

  16. Logically speaking the best 'fat burning' food is the food that can you make you full the most with the least calories possible. Or appetite suppressants. However I do hope you will touch a bit on carb addiction in the future.

  17. It's shocking to see – how many so called ,,Fitness Gurus'' are recommending nowadays to consume Dark Chocolate!!!

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